1. My inspiration for “Sounds Fishy” just came from jostling ideas around in my head. I tend to come up with some odd, humorous ideas with relative ease, so this concept was pretty tame by most standards. However, when I thought about a space crew flying around, it only seemed natural to make them fish!
2. My initial idea for characters was somewhat foggy and ambiguous at first; but when I thought about how they were going to be astronauts, it made sense to me that I should name them after actual astronauts and cosmonauts. Cally Wide for Sally Ride, Fuzzy Baldwin for Buzz Aldrin, and Journey Grey Area for Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human to journey into outer space. I enjoyed the play on words that their names have become.
3. In the book, the three crew mates face off against the galactic shark mafia. Once victorious, they scoot off and make the statement that you never leave a friend behind. I’d like kids to think about that concept of loyalty and dedication, and to consider how they would look after one another if presented with a dangerous situation.
4. Why sci-fi? I love sci-fi. I think this is the genre that allows for the most creativity and the greatest allowance of the imagination. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun when a bit of whimsy is added.
5. Being that this is my first book, I learned about the whole process of constructing a story and illustrating it. I also learned what it’s like working with a publisher and the methods of advertising. There’s definitely more to it than I thought!
6. This is the first in what I’m planning on making as a three-part series. I am currently working on the sequel, “Smells Fishy Too”. It’s already written, and I am working on the illustrations at this time. I hope to have it out soon.
7. I need a quiet place to write, but the world is a noisy place, so I typically put on my music and block it all out. Plus, music helps me get my first ideas to the forefront of my mind.
8. Well, I love Steinbeck and Dean Koontz. I was never much into comic books, but one of my favorite illustrators is Todd McFarlane. He has a very Hogarth-inspired look to his work.
9. I don’t belong to a writers group, but that is something I may become part of. As a new author, this is still all new to me, so I’m sort of taking it a day at a time.
Lucas Salmon is an independent artist with over 35 years of experience in drawing and painting. These days he’s focused mainly on painting with watercolors. His style can be called “Realistic”, or “Photo-realistic”, depending on the subject matter.
In his early 40s, Lucas lives near the east coast where he continues to hone his skills as an artist, always seeking to improve his craft. Inspired by science and nature, he continues to experiment with different styles and subjects.
Lucas has found writing to also be rewarding. He has written, illustrated, and published his first book, ” Sounds Fishy”. He is now putting the finishing touches on his second book, “Smells Fishy Too”, the sequel. Both books were inspired by his great love for science fiction and remembered ideas from his childhood as he would create imaginative characters and worlds in his mind, just to keep busy!
This past weekend, I enjoyed a special four day weekend away in Pincher Creek and visited for the first time, Waterton. Although, the devastating fire of two years ago has left the forest slopes covered in blacken and bone white perished trees, there is an abundance of lush green undergrowth springing up everywhere. Nature restores herself and brings about beauty only she can achieve. Experiencing such magnificence does inspire not only my soul, but a deeper need to be in nature. Growing up, my parents encouraged us to explore, learn about and cherish the natural world. I grew up with Sir David Attenborough’s dulcet tones enthusing over a multitude of wildlife. My children’s book, Ockleberries to the Rescue is my small homage to the natural world – with a magical twist, of course, you know me! – Of magical sprites caring for the animals within. Maybe, deep down, I hope for magical beings to save the world’s wildlife, although in reality there are many individuals and organizations that try.
We were so lucky to encounter two brown bears and two black bears on this trip!
My creativity is born of a multitude of inspirations, some from the familiar, but others from unexpected sources. One draft manuscript, lying in wait, has the seasons as the ‘four’ chapters of a relationship. Another is the result of several news reports, culminating in a story, where I meshed them together. Unrelated or applicable, each inspiration source has the ability to evolve into a story. Some remain as short stories, poems, or even a paragraph or two, but all have enabled me to create. I have kept all these inklings in an electronic folder for many years and from time to time click on one or two. Sometimes, I remember the initial idea source, but many are a mystery now. I read them as if they are written by someone else, enjoying their ‘newness’. A couple have become ‘inserts’ in a subsequent manuscript, in one way or another – a character description, a scene or something a character experiences.
This short story written a long time prior to The Twesome Loop might have been a precursor to it! Perceptions of future or past events.
The Coin by Mandy Eve-Barnett
Sunday is my favorite day of the week. After working hard all week and completing chores and shopping on Saturday this is my time to relax. With the sunshine warming through the patio door, I curl up on my oversized armchair with a glass of wine within easy reach. Now I can start my new novel without interruption, pure bliss.
My absorption in the make believe world is rudely interrupted when a drop of water splashes onto the page. Where could that have come from? I look up to see a glassy sheen on the ceiling and another drop hits my cheek. Oh no, it must be a leaking pipe or something overflowing. I fetch a bowl from the kitchen and place it beneath the circular patch. Another drip makes a pinging sound as it hits the glass. What shall I do first, phone the landlord or go upstairs and check with my neighbor? The latter wins the day and I climb the stairs to apartment eight. With a couple of gentle knocks I stand back and wait for an answer. I hear shuffling sounds and then an elderly voice asks.
“Hello, my name is Annie and I live downstairs. There is water coming through my ceiling.”
“Water in the ceiling? Oh my, that may be my fault.”
The owner of the voice opens her door and I am faced with an old lady wrapped in several jumpers.
“Do come in. I think I may have caused the leak. Come and see, maybe you can switch it off. My hands are so frail I can’t seem to fix the damn thing.”
I follow her and realize her apartment is a mirror image of mine. She stands to one side as I walk into the bathroom to find an overflowing toilet cistern.
“Let’s see what’s happening. The ball cock has stuck, it’s an easy fix.”
With a few twists and by levering the float’s rod up and down I free up the mechanism.
“That should do the trick for now but you should call the landlord and ask him to replace it.”
“I don’t think he will do that, he’s not very capable with this sort of thing. I can call a plumber.”
“Plumber’s are very expensive and really it is a simple fix. I could do it for you if you like?”
“That’s very kind, Annie, I’d pay for the parts of course. Would you like a cup of tea?”
“Thank you that would be nice. Sorry I didn’t catch your name.”
“How rude of me. My name is Annie just like yours.”
“What a coincidence.”
We walk back to the kitchen and I realize how cold her apartment is, I have goose bumps. I rub my arms and wish I’d brought a jumper it had been lovely and warm in my armchair. As Annie organizes pretty little china cups, sugar bowl and milk jug on a tray I notice she has the same cookie jar as me.
“Another coincidence, Annie, I have a cookie jar just like that one.”
“Do you, dear? Would you like a cookie with your tea?”
“No thank you but I have to say you need to put your heating up a bit, it’s cold in here. You will catch your death.”
“I’m used to it I just put on another jumper. You can borrow one if you would like.”
I begin to decline her offer but it is so cold I acquiesce. She turns and hands me a jumper that had been hanging on the chair. It is wonderfully soft and warm.
“Could you carry the tray into the living room for me?”
“Of course I can, Annie. “
It seems strange using my name for another person. I follow her into the main room and stop short when I see my cozy armchair – well an older version of it anyway. There are several objects on the coffee table that are similar and I place the tray down with shaking hands.
“Sorry Annie, I think I’m having a déjà vu moment. You have so many things just like mine.”
“They are yours, Annie, you are at a crossroads and you have to choose the right path. I chose the wrong one so came back to warn you.”
“I’m sorry? What are you talking about?”
“Take this coin and you will see.”
Annie hands me a brass coloured coin tied with a red velvet ribbon and the apartment spins. When it stops I am watching myself weeping and calling out to someone called Carl.
“Please stay, Carl, I’m so sorry. I was scared and acted on impulse.”
I swing around as a male voice speaks and I’m confronted with Carl from my office.
“Annie, I trusted you. How could you betray me?”
My mind is whirling, what did I do? When did I start going out with Carl? When did this happen? My other self replies,
“It was going too fast for me, I wasn’t sure about us. It’s only been five months.”
“You could have told me to cool it off a bit, Annie, I would have understood.”
I feel a tug on my hand and the illusion disappears. I’m back in old Annie’s apartment. My knees give way so I sit with a thump on the armchair.
“Don’t be afraid to let go of your emotions, Annie, trust them. He won’t come back and you’ll be alone like me- forever regretting that one night stand.”
“How did you do that? How are you here with me? I feel sick.”
“Take a few deep breaths you will be alright. I came from another reality to warn you. Keep this talisman as a reminder.”
A thud wakes me my book has fallen from my lap. I look up to see a perfect ceiling, no dripping water, no glass bowl catching the drips. What a dream it was so vivid. As I sit up I smooth the cashmere jumper and grasp something in the pocket. A coin wrapped in red velvet ribbon.
My friend, Linda, and I have been on so many road trips for writing retreats, attending books fairs and writing events in the last eleven or so years, that we have the preparation, planning, and execution of them down to a fine art.
This particular road trip, we are virtually attending When Words Collide as presenters, but it will be a fully literary trip, as we work on current projects, visit local libraries and bookstores, too. There will be day trips for exploring, watching wildlife and finding inspiration as always on the back roads.
We organize our trip, for the most part, in the same way each time. It is a tried and tested practice for us.
Road trip journal
Bird identification book.
Blankets, emergency kit, shovel, trolley.
Chargers, camera, sunglasses.
A bag for trash.
Plenty of water bottles.
In addition there are Sammie essentials:
Water and food bowls
A peaceful and beautiful location.
Options for where we can write – so a desk (or two) and two comfortable chairs, and a nice view.
Comfortable beds, ample lighting, space to spread out our things and a good shower.
A microwave, fridge and storage for food. Luckily, we both like the same foods.
And tea! (So there must be a kettle).
Notebooks and pens.
Current writing projects
Chargers, extension cord and power-bar (there are never enough power points).
New for this trip headphones with mic’s for the presentations.
How do you plan for a writing retreat and A road trip?
My daughter asked me to find certain photographs for her recently. As I went though hundreds of photos (not the digital kind either!) in this large tea chest, that belonged my Mother, it was quite apparent that the numerous family day trips and vacations all had one common thread – nature and wildlife. We went to zoo’s, safari parks, wildlife parks, and even family walks ended up at farms or in fields and forests. This interest has been passed down from parent to child and grandchild. It is a family interest to this day.
My narratives reflect this fascination, even if a location is ‘off world’ there are always references to the natural inhabitants of that world. In Ockleberries to the Rescue, although there are magical woodland sprites caring for forest animals, it is based on Earth. Each chapter allows a child to learn about a specific animal or bird on Earth. These sketch’s by J.E. McKnight illustrate some of the chapter headers.
In Clickety Click there is a hidden world within our own and in Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria there are fantastical plants and animals of my imagination. The initial spark for the story behind Creature Hunt was a chance encounter with this enormous mullein plant on one of my road trips. As can see it was taller than me! You will have to read the book to find out what character it plays.
In The Twesome Loop, an Italian olive grove is a fundamental part of the story. Olive trees can grow for hundreds of years and their gnarly trunks give them character. The story is set between England and Italy, two places I love very much, having lived in one and visited the other.
I used my new found knowledge of my new home, Canada, for the setting of my novel, Life in Slake Patch, which has a prairie location. And The Commodore’s Gift has my protagonists living in a forest cavern, while I take my readers back to medieval England in The Rython Kingdom and Rython Legacy.
As you can see the settings for my stories are as much a character as the protagonists are. It allows my dear readers to imagine the surroundings and the flora and fauna. I personally love discovering the natural world, while letting nature relax and inspire me. There is always something new to learn and see from a bug to a bison, from a flower to a tree.
As we Albertan’s look forward to ‘proper’ Spring instead of ‘false Spring’, we look forward to embracing the warm weather to write outside and enjoy nature. It is not a pretty sight, with brown grass and slush but it will get better. Although, COVID still has us under restrictions, there are ways to enjoy the outdoors. We can drive to a lake or forest, even explore the Rocky Mountains. If you are like me and my friend, Linda, take the back roads and discover untouched parts of the province. Get away from the noise of the city or town, immerse yourself in the stillness and quiet. Here is where your writing Muse flourishes. It is a time when a new project or idea may come forth.
Indulge in people watching, notice how your mind and body react to the change of season. Learn to use emotional, social, and climatic insights and feelings to the benefit of your craft. It gives us an idea how weather can effect a character’s situation or show the passing of time.
How do the different seasons affect your writing?
In other news my ghost writing gig will start late April/early May so it gives me more time to complete the first book in my detective trilogy. I worked with my designer on the covers for the trilogy so that they are consistent and will ‘link’ together when all three books are laid down beside each other. It is always difficult not to share the cover of a new book, there is excitement and eagerness to show them off. I will have to curb that and keep them secret until launch days, apart from the normal teasers, of course.
When you are working on your book covers, how do you ensure your vision comes to life?
I have been very lucky to have access to several talented artists for my book covers through my writing group, Writers Foundation of Strathcona County and my publisher, Dream Write Publishing.
I have been taking advantage of our local Writer in Residence at my library with Zoom open mic meetings and special presentations. This is a great way to have an unbiased view of your current work, not only through the readings and subsequent feedback but also because you can send a sample of the manuscript to them for review. Each year the WIR’s are from different backgrounds and literary genre’s, but no matter what your genre (or theirs) this tool is well worth taking advantage of this free service then maybe you should.
What are you currently working on?
I have a presentation on blogging this Saturday. An Easter writing retreat to look forward to. And a ghost writing project lined up for late April/early May.